David Gaughran

Publishers Weekly Ignores The Real Scandal At LA Times Festival of Books

9 March 2014

From David Gaughran:

Publishers Weekly whipped up a storm on Wednesday with news of a deal between Amazon and the LA Times Festival of Books, resulting in calls for the publishing community to boycott the event. But Publishers Weekly is ignoring the real scandal.

Amazon isn’t listed as a sponsor or scheduled to appear. The “deal” in question pertains to the LA Times Festival of Books signing up as an Amazon affiliate so they can earn a percentage from sales made through their website. Mary Williams, of Skylight Books in Los Angeles, complained that sales will be “siphoned away” by Amazon.

. . . .

The reaction was predictable:

The LA Book Festival is a place where book publishers, booksellers, and book lovers come together as a community to celebrate their shared values. Those values are far removed from Amazon’s. Giving Amazon such a prominent role is, to say the least, inappropriate and insensitive.

Give me a break. This is the same LA Times Festival of Books that has been welcoming Author Solutions for years without a peep. And aside from scamming writers in general, Author Solutions has also been scamming authors at the event.

I reported last month that Author Solutions is selling $3,999 book signing packages to appear at the LA Times Festival of Books, and that by Author Solutions’ own figures, they screwed authors out of over $900,000 at last year’s event alone.

This book signing scam has been going on at the LA Times Festival of Books for at least five years. Where’s the outrage? It’s pretty hard to miss the giant row of Author Solutions booths at the event. Why didn’t all these indie booksellers and publishing professionals threaten a boycott over Author Solutions?

. . . .

A media organization, and the editors and journalists that work for it, makes subjective choices all the time. They choose to run a story about Amazon’s partnership with the LA Times Book Fair. They choose to print six negative reactions to the news and zero critical analysis. They choose to make this their headline story. And they choose to cover the Amazon angle and ignore the much worse Author Solutions story. Objectivity, as always, is a fig leaf.

While Publishers Weekly is strangely reticent to cover the Author Solutions story, it’s more than happy to take its money. Author Solutions sells six different Publishers Weekly advertising packages – costing between $2,599 and $16,499. These are pushed by its huge team of sales consultants, who are famous for putting the squeeze on inexperienced writers and making false promises, behavior which has led to a class action suit for deceptive business practices.

Author Solutions makes two thirds of its income from selling crap like this to writers (instead of making money with writers by actually helping them sell books). And you can see the full list of companies who have such dealings with Author Solutions – a virtual Who’s Who of traditional publishing – at the bottom of this post.

Link to the rest at Let’s Get Visible and thanks to Pamela for the tip.

PG says nobody in the traditional publishing ecosystem becomes upset when organizations make money at the expense of authors. However, when they make money at the expense of bookstores or pubishers, it’s a scandal.

A Victory Against Author Solutions

14 February 2014

From David Gaughran:

It should be clear to everyone now that Penguin Random House has no intention of cleaning up Author Solutions.

. . . .

I’ve been covering the Author Solutions story for a while now – particularly since the Penguin purchase, which was met with disbelief in the author community.  It’s a frustrating beat, especially when faced with a wall of silence from the many companies and organizations in traditional publishing who have links to Author Solutions and its subsidiaries.

Documenting the links between Author Solutions and the rest of the publishing world is depressing work. The list reads like a Who’s Who of traditional publishing. Getting them to discuss their links to Author Solutions has been near-impossible, let alone taking any action with regard to those links.

One exception has been The Bookseller.

criticized The Bookseller when I learned it was carrying advertising from Author Solutions. Those ads were being re-sold by Author Solutions to its customers at insane mark-ups (prices up to $10,500). Price-gouging aside, I felt that Author Solutions being able to offer such advertising to its customers bestowed legitimacy on its scammy operations.

That post led to a dialogue with Philip Jones, the editor of The Bookseller. Last week, he told me that The Bookseller is no longer accepting such ads. Here’s the money quote, reproduced with permission:

The Bookseller is no longer taking advertising from Author Solutions or its subsidiary companies. We’ve previously asked them to update the information they display about us on their websites, and have now asked them to remove it entirely.

. . . .

This week I discovered another prestigious literary festival which has been welcoming Author Solutions for several years. From figures in their own press release regarding the 2013 LA Times Book Fair, Author Solutions hosted 80 book signings and showcased 1,100 titles.

By their own price list – where they charge $3,999 for the former and $599 for the latter – this netted Author Solutions $658,900 for “showcasing” those books and a further $319,920 for the book signings. That’s a total of almost one million dollars. From one event!

It’s great to get a victory against Author Solutions, but it’s time to increase the pressure on the companies and organisations which still have links with the company. I’ve been asked by readers to compile a list of such links, and I’ve copied that below.

Link to the rest at Let’s Get Visible

Astroturfing: The Source of Zombie Memes in Publishing?

8 January 2014

From David Gaughran:

Why are there so many zombie memes in publishing? Why is there so much groupthink? It might be because the industry isn’t particularly diverse. Or it could be that book-lovers are nostalgic types who are automatically wary of change.

But I suspect it’s astroturfing by the publishing establishment, a practice admitted to last month by YS Chi, chairman of Elsevier and president of the International Publishers Association, in paragraph six of this article.

For the click-lazy, here’s the money quote (emphasis mine):

We gathered all the communications people together to discuss the issues and create an action plan. We have a multi-faceted audience to address, and in the next 12 months you will see key messages delivered, compelling stories of our impact on society for culture and education. We’ll ask you to personalize that message. I’m very excited that there is a meeting of minds on this.”

Yey, talking points! I don’t know if I’m more excited about the centrally approved messaging that’s going to flood the blogosphere, or the mental image of YS Chi doing a mind-meld with everyone in publishing.

. . . .

Self-publishing is a bubble

Remember Ewan Morrison’s prediction in The Guardian? “Epublishing is another tech bubble, and it will burst in the next 18 months.”

That was two years ago, but Morrison was never one to wave the white flag in the face of facts, evidence, or logic. He’s now pushed the date out for this bubble bursting to a point in the 2020s (don’t ask me to be more exact, I can’t abide his pseudo-intellectual crap).

. . . .

The e-book market has flattened/peaked/slumped

We’ve reached the stage now where over 50% of new release fiction is purchased in digital format, as reported by several large publishers last year. The market simply cannot keep doubling – you can’t have 110% of new release sales in digital format. This doesn’t mean the market has flattened or peaked (or slumped).

There is a difference between the rate of growth slowing, and the market actually shrinking, and official industry figures don’t measure any of the boom in self-publishing. Eoin Purcell had a good piece in the Irish Times noting this, and Nate Hoffelder at The Digital Reader drills down further here.

. . . .

Large publishers nurture writers

LOL!

There’s too much competition to self-publish

Yes, there’s a lot of competition. Yes, it has gotten tougher in the last few years. But no matter how you decide to publish your book, you will face the same level of competition. At least if you self-publish, you will be able to use all the tools we do to build an audience (aggressive pricing, reader-focused marketing, optimized metadata, speed-to-market).

Link to the rest at Let’s Get Visible and thanks to Liana for the tip.

Kobo Cull Self-Published Titles In Knee-jerk Response To Tabloid Clickbait

15 October 2013

From David Gaughran:

A media firestorm erupted in the UK on Sunday after a tabloid story about WH Smith selling “filth” alongside books aimed at children, which has resulted in Kobo culling huge numbers of self-published titles – most of which have no erotic content whatsoever.

It’s hard to know exactly how many titles Kobo has pulled. What we do know is thatKobo has removed all 7,883 self-published titles distributed to their store via Draft2Digital, as confirmed in an email from D2D’s CEO to affected authors.

However, I think that’s only a tiny fraction of affected titles. Many self-published authors who distribute via the (much larger) Smashwords service have reported their books are no longer on sale on Kobo’s UK store, as have many authors who uploaded to Kobo direct, via their self-publishing platform Kobo Writing Life. And, indeed, it’s not just self-publishers that are affected. Lots of small publishers either use a distributor like Smashwords, or upload direct via KWL.

Those not in the UK will be unaware of the full extent of the problem, as only those with UK IP addresses can view the Kobo UK store. But when I ran a simple check of 10 self-published authors – none of whom write erotica or romance – half were missing from the UK store. Indeed, all seven of my titles have been pulled – which I uploaded direct via KWL – and I don’t write erotica (and don’t have any other pen-names).

. . . .

Amazon and Barnes & Noble are reported to have quietly removed the titles in question, but Kobo seems to be at the mercy of its partner sites. WH Smith closing their entire site (and they sell lots of products other than books) has put intense pressure on Kobo, who reacted with the braindead decision to cull huge chunks of their self-published catalogue. I don’t know how they decided which books to pull, but it’s quite clear that most books removed don’t have any erotic content and are written by authors who haven’t published any erotic content.

And the moral panic is spreading. Whitcoulls – Kobo’s partner in New Zealand – has closed their ebookstore completely until they can “guarantee that any inappropriate material, that has been available through self published eBooks, has been removed from the Kobo eBook catalogue.”

. . . .

Personally, I’m of the view (and I accept there’s a range of opinion on this) that a retailer can decide to stock whatever they like, and I don’t consider it censorship when any given retailer decides they don’t want to stock certain stuff. But when all retailers move in lockstep in response to a panic manufactured by a tabloid famous for clickbaiting, then that acts as a form of quasi-censorship.

And I have a real problem with outsourcing moral decisions to a tabloid like the Daily Mail.

Of course, there’s also quite a bit of double standards here. Even the Daily Mail admitted that not all the titles they outed were self-published, but Kobo’s actions have only targeted self-publishers. Indeed, the biggest selling book of 2012 was Fifty Shades of Grey which still remains on sale at Kobo, along with Flowers in the Attic (incest), Lolita (underage sex), and Justine by the Marquis de Sade (the works).

I’m not suggesting that those books should also be removed – far from it. I’m uncomfortable with the idea of corporations acting as moral policemen. I don’t think it should be a free-for-all, but we need to be very careful before we take the step of banning certain kinds of books because we personally find the contents objectionable.

Link to the rest at Let’s Get Digital and thanks to Catherine for the tip.

Bloomsbury Seeks Deal With Author Solutions

13 October 2013

From David Gaughran:

The publishing world has been turned upside down by ebooks and self-publishing.

All the old middlemen – agents, publishers, distributors, retailers – are scrambling to reinvent themselves, trying to remain relevant in a digital world.

. . . .

Author Solutions is the market leader in the author exploitation game. That, however, was no impediment to Penguin splashing out $116m to purchase the company in July 2012. And it has been absolutely no barrier to a huge range of companies doing deals with them of one kind or another.

The latest edition to this gallery of rogues is Bloomsbury Publishing, who are famous for the Harry Potter series, but who are also known to UK writers as publishers of the querying author’s bible the Writers’ & Artists’ Yearbook.

Its equivalent in the US would be Writer’s Market, and the Writers’ & Artists’ Yearbook holds a similarly special place for UK authors. The publishing industry has always been something of a swamp, and the Writers’ & Artists’ Yearbook was the most trusted resource to keep you out of the hands of unscrupulous agents charging reading fees, dubious editorial services, and vanity publishers.

What’s happening to the Writers’ & Artists’ Yearbook is a perfect example, in microcosm, of the industry being disrupted and embracing shady practices to protect future revenue. With less authors querying, less even wanting an agent or traditional publisher, and more and more electing to self-publish, the Writers’ & Artists’ Yearbook decided to reinvent itself.

. . . .

The centerpiece of the Self-Publishing section of the site is a “comparison service” of self-publishing companies. If alarm bells are already ringing, you’re on the right track.

Precious little information is given on the most viable path to self-publishing, the one that every single self-publisher I know uses (and I know lots of ‘em), namely, uploading directly to KDP and either uploading to Nook, Kobo, and Apple directly, or using a reputable distributor (like Smashwords or Draft2Digital) to reach the other retailers.

I don’t know of one single successful self-publisher who uses a “self-publishing service” to publish their books. The reasons are simple. At best you will have delayed sales reports, reduced payments, and less control over things like categories and pricing.

At the other end of the spectrum, where most of these companies reside, you will pay eye-watering prices only for your book to be poorly designed, poorly edited, have incorrect metadata attached (making discoverability and visibility an uphill struggle). You will be plagued by incessant phone calls and emails flogging overpriced services of dubious value, and you will experience trouble getting paid at all – if your book manages to sell anything, which is doubtful for the reasons mentioned.

When I tested the Writers’ & Artists’ comparison tool, I inputted answers that a typical newbie might. To no great surprise, the list of recommended providers was peppered with Author Solutions’ subsidiaries. No differentiation was made between the few reputable companies such as KDP, Smashwords, or eBookPartnership, and the much more numerous god-awful vanity presses like Trafford, Abbot Press, and Archway.

. . . .

[S]uch an approach – by accident or design – will always rank a vanity press like AuthorHouse ahead of a legitimate service like Smashwords, because the latter doesn’t offer an encyclopedia of scammy services like a $1,199 “web optimized” press release or a $3,999 book signing.

. . . .

When Bloomsbury first launched this site, they emailed the various companies listed in their comparison tool stating that there was no charge for being listed on the site, but that a charge for leads may be introduced at a future time. This is confirmed on the Writers’ & Artists’ site itself, where it states:

Every provider featured on the site has been contacted with the option of paying a flat fee for each lead received via our comparison service.

In other words, Bloomsbury wants to be an affiliate for some of the worst vanity presses out there. It is collecting personal information from inexperienced authors, and then parceling it up and seeking to sell it to some of the most disreputable companies in publishing – including Author Solutions and its myriad subsidiaries.

Link to the rest at Let’s Get Digital

Let’s Get Visible. Cracking The Amazon Algorithms With David Gaughran

17 August 2013

From The Creative Penn:

Here’s a couple of things I learned [from David Gaughran's Let's Get Visible: How To Get Noticed And Sell More Books (Let's Get Publishing)] (and I’ve been at this a while!)

(1) Amazon algorithms are different for different charts and different territories

I’m not one of those people who likes to track data, but I have known for a long time how important the Amazon algorithms are for selling books. What I didn’t know was the difference between the Sales Rank, the Recommendation Engine, Bestseller Lists, Popularity lists, Top-Rated in Categories, Hot New Releases, Movers & Shakers and all the other ways you can target the lists and prime the sales pump.

There’s also a fantastic section on choosing the best categories for your book, which is certainly how the ARKANE books have sold. If I had stayed in Action-Adventure, I wouldn’t have sold so many, but I moved to Religious Fiction and have been in and out of the bestseller charts since release.

(2) Staggering your launch is better for long-term sales than a big initial spike

A few years back there was a boom in ‘Amazon Bestseller’ promos where people would try to spike sales on one day, hit the charts and that would make everything a success. However, Amazon’s whole aim is to give people fantastic content and those kinds of programs were boosting books that didn’t necessarily deserve visibility. David talks about how the algorithm now pushes those books back down as fast as they rose, so when you launch, you want to have a slow start, with sales spaced out over time. He has a lot of specific ideas around the launch, definitely worth taking note of.

Link to the rest at The Creative Penn

15 Ways Amazon Can Improve Kindle Direct Publishing

3 June 2013

Another insightful post from David Gaughran:

At the London Book Fair in April, I had the opportunity to meet representatives from Amazon and present a list of feature requests and complaints.

. . . .

I spent quite a bit of time going through the list and felt that everything got a fair hearing.

Amazon said that a lot of this stuff is in the pipeline in one form or another (although judgement will have to be reserved until we see how it’s implemented) and the rest of the issues and feature requests would be passed along to the relevant department.

. . . .

1. More Data!

I appreciate that lots of stuff is proprietary and that there might be privacy concerns surrounding what can be shared, but KDP could at least share conversion rates.

I get limited data through my affiliate account, but that’s only part of the picture, and only really tells me what happens to the traffic I bring to the site. I can only guess at the behavior of readers who discover my books themselves on Amazon – and that’s what I really want to know.

Amazon might not want to share traffic numbers, but I would love conversion percentages, sample percentages, and conversion data on those samplers etc.

. . . .

4. Categories

The category system is central to discoverability, visibilty, and marketing.

. . . .

There are so many issues with the category system it could fill a post of its own, but I’ll run through the main ones quickly:

(a) We need lots more sub-categories. Amazon recently added new granular sub-categories in some genres, but others were completely untouched. It’s great that SF now has 20 sub-categories. It makes it easier for readers to find the kind of books they like among the 50,000 or so SF e-books on Amazon. And it makes it much easier for SF writers to be discovered and gain visibility in those smaller categories. On the other hand you have genres like Historical Fiction, which has 25,000 books and no sub-categories. I appreciate that it’s tough to divide up some categories – coming up with sub-categories for Literary Fiction is fun! – but there are so many options with Historical Fiction. If you need an example, Barnes & Noble have 20 sub-categories.

(b) New categories are great, but we can’t select many of them when uploading. The new additions aren’t selectable from the interface, and many old choices are similarly blocked since the redesign. This is a terrible idea and it’s creating work for your customer service team, who have to manually deal with authors’ requests. The only other way to get into these new sub-categories is to use the title as a keyword (which doesn’t always work either). All these sub-categories should be selectable from the KDP interface. There’s no good reason why they shouldn’t be.

(c) For the love of all things holy, please tell your customer service representatives that these new sub-categories are not like Kindle Singles and Kindle Serials and aren’t reserved for hand-picked titles. Self-publishers are having to go through five or six emails before they get a rep who actually understands this. It’s very frustrating and so easily fixed.

. . . .

7. Pre-orders

Lots of self-publishers want them, not least because books with a pre-order page are eligible for Hot New Releases straight from upload. It seems a little unfair that we are competing against titles from large publishers which have this facility. I personally wouldn’t use this feature as I don’t want to dilute crucial launch week sales, but it’s one of the most commonly requested features and should be mentioned.

. . . .

9. Improve Reporting

The reporting system isn’t bad but there’s a lot of room for improvement. Createspace has a much better system. I can run reports on any date range and get a breakdown of what sold where.

On KDP, I have to check 9 different pages and it will only show me totals of what each title has sold this month and last month. It doesn’t even add the totals in each country (let alone the overall total), which should be simple to automate. And the 6-weekly reports are kind of pointless. I can see if income is trending up or down, but they don’t match up with the rest of the KDP reports because they are weekly rather than monthly.

Link to the rest at Let’s Get Visible and thanks to Barb for the tip.

Lazy Literary Agents In Self-Publishing Money Grab via Argo Navis

22 April 2013

From David Gaughran:

I was at the London Book Fair last week – and I’ll be blogging about that soon – when the news broke that David Mamet is to self-publish his next book.

His reasons? ”Publishing is like Hollywood—nobody ever does the marketing they promise.”

While I think it’s great that someone as high-profile as David Mamet is self-publishing, I was very disappointed to find out the way he’s doing it.

. . . .

Literary agents in particular must be worried about what that means for their future, which explains their ludicrous reactions when someone like Barry Eisler states the above. However, a company called Argo Navis – a publisher-owned distributor – has come to their rescue, providing them with a way to re-insert themselves in the chain between self-publishing author and reader. And get their cut of course.

Mamet is represented by a major literary agency – ICM Partners – who are just one of many agencies to have signed a deal with Perseus Books-owned Argo Navis.

What Do Argo Navis Offer?

Essentially, Argo Navis are a distributor. They offer a portal through which authors’ work can be distributed to all the various retailers like Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Apple, and Kobo.

In exchange for this relatively trivial service, Argo Navis take a 30% cut. You read that right. After the retailer takes their standard cut (usually also 30%), Argo Navis take another 30% before passing on payments.

Obviously, this is massively overpriced compared to distributors like Smashwords or Draft2Digital, who only take 10%, and especially so when you compare the cost of going direct to retailers like Amazon (it’s free). But the problems with Argo Navis don’t end there.

Services like cover design, editing, formatting, scanning, and conversion are not included in this hefty price tag – but are available for a premium. Who provides those services? According to their website, it’s “third party specialists.”

. . . .

Why Are Literary Agents Using Argo Navis?

Argo Navis has been very clever with how they market their service. It’s pitched as agent-curated self-publishing - hey, it’s a step up from assisted self-publishing. Argo Navis don’t (and won’t) deal with authors directly, and will only accept titles for distribution submitted by literary agents.

This in turn allows agents to tap into what I call The Myth of the Segregated Marketplace - where authors believe that the visibility challenges resulting from the open nature of digital distribution are exclusively faced by self-published authors. Of course, those challenges are faced by all authors – however they publish. And given the abysmal rankings of books published via Argo Navis, it’s not a challenge that they are handling well.

But what’s in it for the agent? For starters, royalty checks come to their offices first (after Argo Navis have taken their considerable bite). This allows the agent to deduct their 15% before the author sees any money. Of course, it allows unscrupulous agents to take a little more – something enabled by Argo Navis only providing sales reports to agents rather than directly to authors – but I digress.

. . . .

At this point you would be forgiven for thinking that no reputable literary agency would go for this. Well, I wish that was the case. Here’s a list of agencies that have signed up with Argo Navis:

  • Writers House
  • ICM Partners
  • Carol Mann Agency
  • Cynthia Cannell Literary Agency
  • The Hartnett Agency
  • Paul Bresnick Literary Agency
  • Pinder Lane & Garon-Brooke Associates
  • Curtis Brown (US)
  • April Eberhardt Literary
  • David Black Agency
  • Elizabeth Kaplan Literary Agency
  • Folio Literary Management
  • Levine Greenberg Literary Agency
  • Liza Royce Literary Agency
  • Melanie Jackson Agency
  • Janklow & Nesbit Associates
  • Joëlle Delbourgo Associates
  • Arcadia Literary Agency
  • Harvey Klinger
  • APA Talent and Literary Agency
  • Charlotte Sheedy Literary Agency
  • Irene Skolnick Literary Agency
  • FinePrint Literary Management
  • Donald Maass Literary Agency

. . . .

What’s In It For Authors?

There’s no upside to being funneled into this program. Participating authors get lower royalties, no sales reports, slower payments, and lose the ability to make quick changes to things like pricing – which is essential for marketing.

The money is the big one though, so I’d like to focus on that:

  • An author self-publishing direct with KDP will receive up to 70% of list price.
  • An author who self-publishes via Argo Navis will receive 41.65% of list price.

Link to the rest, including links to some Argo Navis books so you can check the covers and sales rank at Let’s Get Digital

Self-Publishing Grabs Huge Market Share From Traditional Publishers

14 April 2013

From David Gaughran:

The Kindle’s share of the US market is far larger – with most observers pegging it at between 60% and 65% (most of the rest is split between Apple and Barnes & Noble, with Google, Sony, and Kobo combined perhaps getting around 5%). But how much of that have self-publishers grabbed?

Amazon is famously tight-lipped about such matters, so we have to put the pieces together ourselves. As such, the method is necessarily crude, but it’s the best I’ve got.

. . . .

In August 2011, Amazon launched the Kindle Indie Store, which showcases hand-picked work in a variety of genres from KDP authors. It also has a Top 100 list, ordered by Sales Rank, just like the regular Kindle Store Top 100.

By comparing the position of self-published work in the Kindle Indie Store Top 100 with it’s overall Sales Rank, we can get a pretty accurate idea of what proportion of the top-selling books are self-published.

When the Kindle Indie Store first launched, I tracked the Indie Top 100 for a few weeks. Invariably, the book that was #100 in the Indie chart was around #400 to #500 in the overall Kindle Store – meaning that, at the time, roughly 20% to 25% of the top-selling items in the Kindle Store were self-published e-books (and those numbers held up throughout the list).

. . . .

Today, you’ll see that the book at #100 in the Indie chart is #346 in the overall Kindle Store – meaning that 29% of the top-selling items in the Kindle Store are self-published e-books – and that proportion has been stable enough recently.

The Kindle Store contains more than just e-books, with things like digital subscriptions to the New York Times, magazines, blog subscriptions, and games regularly appearing in the Top 100. If you were to subtract all of those, and try and isolate e-books, that figure (easily) goes north of 30%.

This staggers me. 30% of the top-selling e-books on Amazon are self-published, beating out the biggest authors from the largest publishing houses in the world – as well as titles from Amazon’s own imprints (which aren’t included in the Indie Top 100).

This roughly tallies with the limited data we do have from Amazon, who recently announced the top-selling Kindle Books of 2013 (January to March). Seven of the Top 20 were self-published (and that’s not counting formerly self-published work, or Amazon imprint books).

. . . .

Now we can start putting the pieces together. When we factor in the respective market share of Amazon and Barnes & Noble (and Kobo), that leads to the following estimate (which might be conservative): self-publishers have captured 25% of the US e-book market.

Link to the rest at Let’s Get Digital

Why Amazon’s Purchase of Goodreads Is A Good Thing

29 March 2013

From the always-helpful David Gaughran:

The doom-mongers have been running wild on Twitter with the news that Amazon is to acquire Goodreads. Much of that nonsense is typical (hysterical) Amazon bashing, or reflexive defense of the status quo.

. . . .

There are some more reasonable fears about what this purchase entails. I would like to deal with these in turn, then discuss how I think this acquisition will be beneficial to writers – particularly self-publishers.

. . . .

1. Amazon will change Goodreads from being an independent home for readers to discuss the books they love

I can understand this fear – particularly if you are a Goodreads user, and spend a lot of time in the site. It’s not unreasonable to be worried about what happens next with a site that you love. I also understand the feeling of ownership that (rightly) develops in a community like Goodreads – especially one that has literally built the site into what it is today.

No-one has a crystal ball here, but all the indications are that Goodreads will retain its independence. That point was stressed in a blog post from Goodreads CEO Otis Chandler.

. . . .

If you are more worried about Amazon’s intentions, here’s Amazon VP Russ Grandinetti in a revealing interview with PaidContent’s Laura Hazard Owen:

Our mentality here is to first do no harm, and make sure that if we’re going to do integrations, users genuinely find it to be a big benefit.

Again, you might say talk is cheap, that actions speak louder than words. Well, let’s look at Amazon’s actions.

Amazon purchased a 40% stake in LibraryThing seven years ago. It bought Shelfari outright five years ago. It bought IMDB.com fifteen years ago. The independence and brand of those communities has not been compromised in all that time.

. . . .

4. Goodreads will become a site exclusively for Kindle owners

The statements above are quite clear that this isn’t going to happen, and that Goodreads will remain a home for anyone who loves books – however they read them.

It’s also clear that Amazon and Goodreads will be working together to provide extra features for Kindle users. Owners of other devices may gripe about that, but I think that’s the wrong way to look at it. This purchase has enabled the new features not prevented them for other devices. Amazon can hardly be expected to provide the technical know-how on how to integrate features onto EPUB devices they haven’t designed or manufactured.

. . . .

How does this acquisition help self-publishers?

I see three primary benefits:

1. More advertising opportunities on Goodreads, and a better return on investment. Goodreads already has an advertising program, but it’s hardly the best ROI in the business. Amazon has the experience and know-how to improve the program – and self-publishers are always looking for more (effective) places to advertise their books.

2. Amazon’s recommendation algorithms will be vastly improved with all the data that Goodreads has been collecting. Anything that makes Amazon a more trusted source for book recommendations levels the playing field for self-publishers – the vast majority of whom make 90% (or more) of their sales at Amazon, despite the Kindle only having around 60% of the market.

Link to the rest at Let’s Get Digital

Next Page »

Page optimized by WP Minify WordPress Plugin